The right education can go a long way in helping you accomplish your entrepreneurial dreams, especially if you attend an institution with a proven track record of offering strong business resources.
The following colleges and universities offer fantastic programs that can help guide students — or the community — through the different stages of business planning. You can also check out this list of business resources for young entrepreneurs!
Grants, Scholarships, Business Loans, or Other Funding Opportunities
Without financial backing, an idea is just an idea. A number of colleges offer funding opportunities like grants, scholarships, loans, and competitions to help students turn their ideas into reality.
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business has an entrepreneurship program with multiple funding avenues for students. The two key ones are the Penn Wharton Innovation Fund — which awards amounts ranging from $250 to $5,000 depending on the stage of your business planning — and the $10,000 Summer Venture Award. There are also a number of other awards, prizes, competitions, and funds.
New York University
The pinnacle of New York University’s entrepreneurship offerings is its notorious $300K entrepreneurship challenge, one of the largest and most innovative startup accelerators in the world. Outside of this 8-month long challenge, NYU has the Innovation Fund to help founders scale their startups and numerous other funding opportunities for different types of businesses.
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship has grant opportunities for both students and professionals seeking to grow their ventures. For example, the center has the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub, a source of professional funding, and the Michigan Biomedical Venture Fund which awards $50,000 to $300,000 to biomedical startup companies.
The University of Austin at Texas
The University of Austin at Texas awards $115,000 annually to budding entrepreneurs. Among its funding options are startup competitions like DirsupTexas and Pitch Texas, as well as various fellowships and grants.
Harvard has innovative funding support for students, including a Loan Reduction Program. In consultation with MBA financial aid, Harvard’s Rock Center can provide one-time need-based awards of $10,000 to $20,000 for graduating MBA students committed to pursuing for-profit entrepreneurial ventures. Additionally, there is a slew of venture competitions in which students can compete for capital.
Coming up with a golden idea is by far one of the most difficult elements of entrepreneurship. However, it’s not something you have to do alone. Many colleges have accelerators and centers to help you start up your startup.
University of Southern California
Not only does the school itself have a wealth of programs and events designed to help early-stage entrepreneurs, but living in California, one of the country’s key startup hubs, is bound to inspire creativity.
One of the best funding programs at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business is the annual Clapp IDEA Competition. This competition encourages students to generate and pitch business ideas with the hope of winning up to $20,000.
One of the oldest entrepreneurial programs in the country, Stanford’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (CES), offers great support through the ideation phase of building a business. For example, CES has Stanford Venture Studio, an entrepreneurship hub for graduate students exploring new ideas, and Startup Garage, an intensive project-based course in which students design and test new business concepts.
In addition to being located in one of the nation’s top cities for entrepreneurship, Boston, Northeastern University has a number of successful programs supporting early-stage companies. One such resource is IDEA, a student-run venture accelerator that has launched 52 ventures to date and gained $86.6 million in funding.
Among the college’s signature events supporting new ideas are the Rocket Pitch challenge, where students and alumni can develop and pitch their business ideas, and the B.E.T.A Challenge, a new venture competition.
If you’re looking for an all-around entrepreneurial college with resources galore, the following colleges have it all.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT’s incredible entrepreneurship and business programs contain a mix of academics (classes, MBE E&I track), programs (StartMIT, MIT Delta v, NYC Startup Studio, student clubs), events (Silicon Valley Study Tour, speaker series, awards), infrastructure (entrepreneurs in residence, research, professional advisors network), and outreach (boot camps, cross-campus partnerships).
New York University
NYU has brilliant resources that support entrepreneurs at all stages — generating notable alumni like Rich and Vicky Fulop, the founders of Brooklinen. These resources include, but are not limited to, the Leslie eLab, a space connecting entrepreneurs, the Tandon School of Engineering’s Future Labs, which help tech-related businesses, and the MakerSpace, a collaborative workshop.
Outside of its academic resources, the Kelley school has a physical space where students can gain tangible experience in building a business. The Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship offers a number of co-curricular events, services, and events through its Entrepreneurial Innovation Ecosystem. Some examples include the Shoemaker Innovation Center, which offers counseling and mentorship, and The Mill, an incubator space.
Now, one of the best programs in the country, Babson offers fantastic resources like the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, where students of all entrepreneurial interests can find support. The center hosts a slew of signature events, including the Rocket Pitch challenge, the intensive 10-week Summer Venture Program, and the Butler Launch Pad, which provides workshops, office hours with experts, seed funding, and a free workspace.
Harvard’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship hosts programs like the New Venture Competition, the Rock Accelerator, and the Harvard Innovation Lab. Students can also benefit from consultations with the school’s entrepreneurs in residence and the variety of entrepreneurship-related academic courses. Another notable feature of Harvard’s program is that it separates programs into different entrepreneurial paths: founder, joiner, and investor. As a result, you can take very tailored classes and easily transition post-graduation.
Connections can take you a long way in the world of business. Recognizing the importance of this, some colleges prioritize cultivating strong networking and mentorship opportunities for students and alumni.
Berkeley’s strength is tech entrepreneurship — bolstered by a network of 500 investors and industry partners, as well as two specialized programs: the Engineering Leadership Professional Program and the Silicon Valley Innovation Leadership Week. Due to its extensive ecosystem of Silicon Valley and Global partners, UC Berkeley is a great school for students looking to connect with established entrepreneurs and investors.
University of Michigan
The university has strong internal and external ecosystems, so entrepreneurs can become part of the larger community and take advantage of important connections with entrepreneurial alumni and staples like Y Combinator.
In general, Harvard has a strong alumni network. This remains true for the business school, whose alumni list is filled with success stories ranging from former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson to former President George W. Bush to the first female CEO of Time, Inc., Ann S. Moore. Students can benefit from consultations with the school’s entrepreneurs in residence, as well as frequent conferences, competitions, and other events that provide ample networking opportunities.
The University of Texas at Austin
At the University of Texas at Austin’s Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Renewal, there are plenty of opportunities to build your idea by finding mentorship, networking, and conducting market research. For example, UTA allows students to meet with experts at any stage in business development.
Babson has a number of unique opportunities for networking with entrepreneurs, alumni, and fellow students. Uncommon Tables is a program through which students can gather with fellow social innovators. Another interesting hands-on mentorship opportunity is the college’s BASE Consultations program in which you can meet with an experienced alum for virtual or in-person business consultations.
Guidance for Women Entrepreneurs Within the Community
It’s not always easy being a female entrepreneur and some colleges are aware of that, facilitating programs and courses to level the playing field for men and women in business.
Babson has an entire center dedicated to women’s entrepreneurship. The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership has programs for graduates and undergraduates, including a venture accelerator and a mentorship program, in addition to women-only entrepreneurial events.
Michigan State University
To support women in entrepreneurship, Michigan State University has some events exclusive to female entrepreneurs, such as the Women In Entrepreneurship WE Pitch Competition. The school also hosts get-togethers and meetings for female entrepreneurs.
University of Texas at Austin
The school has an Office of Inclusion, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship which holds programs specifically for women in business, like the Women’s Initiative for Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development, an incubator program beginning this year.
One of the big selling points for Indiana University’s program is its strong focus on women in entrepreneurship, which is evident through unique resources like the Center for Excellence for Women in Technology. According to the website, the center is “the nation’s first and only large-scale interdisciplinary, university-based initiative to encourage and promote the participation, empowerment, and achievement of women students, faculty, staff, and alumnae in technology.”
University of Michigan
For women, Ross has a BBA chapter “to educate and create awareness of business issues pertaining to women and to create a sense of community…” The school also has an Office of Diversity and Inclusion whose sole focus is promoting empowerment for minority communities in business.